Gallstones are a common health problem, affecting about 25 million people in the US. However, a lot of people still unsure about what they actually are. If you are interested to learn more about this common conditions, in this article you’ll discover what exactly gallstones are and what causes them.
What Are Gallstones?
Gallstones are made from hard pieces of material such as bilirubin or cholesterol. They form in the gallbladder and can extremely range in size. Some are small about the size of a grain of rice, while others can be of the size of a golf ball.
The number of gallstones produced vary. Some people develop just one, while others have hundreds of tiny gallstones. Possibly these stones can cause some blockages in the biliary tract or bile ducts, making pain at the top of the abdomen.
A numerous number of gallstones don’t lead to blockages and also don’t cause any pain. Known as silent gallstones and they pass easily by themselves.
Medically, gallstones are known as Cholelithiasis and they are one of the most common conditions, affecting around 10% to 15% of the population.
Understanding the Different Types
There are two main types of gallstone. These include cholesterol and pigment stones.
Cholesterol stones tend to be a yellow, green colour and they are basically hardened cholesterol. In some countries, these types of gallstones are the common ones.
Pigment stones are made from bilirubin. These ones tend to be darker in colour. It’s possible that you can suffer from both types of gallstones at the same time.
What Causes Them?
Gallstones are developed due to a chemical imbalance of the bile in the gallbladder. And the cause of this chemical imbalance is unknown, it is thought to lead to increase cholesterol or bilirubin development. The levels of cholesterol or bilirubin then turn into hard stones in the bile. A gallstones start off very small, but some will grow slowly over time. Sometimes gallstones can grow for years before they are detected.
Can You Prevent Them?
You cannot always avoid gallstones, but some risk factors can be controlled. For example, it is known people that sufferings with weight issues have a higher risk of developing gallstones. So, weight management could prevent them.
Avoiding all foods that are high in saturated fat will help. You will also want to increase your wholegrain and fresh fruit and vegetable intake. Interestingly, it is also known that small amounts of alcohol can help to keep gallstones at bay. Nuts also have some benefits at reducing the risk of their development.
Finally we can say that gallstones are a common issue and they are usually painless. However, they can also have a very significant impact on your daily life if they grow large. For that reason, it is worth having them diagnosed by a good doctor and treated if needed. You cannot always avoid them, but having knowledge about them can help to ensure they don’t develop into a more serious problem.